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Gera gears up for Donetsk duel

Zoltán Gera told UEFA.com that Fulham FC are steeling themselves for a "very, very difficult game in Ukraine" after they edged past FC Shakhtar Donetsk in their round of 32 opener.

Zoltán Gera (right) celebrates his early opener against the 2008/09 UEFA Cup winners
Zoltán Gera (right) celebrates his early opener against the 2008/09 UEFA Cup winners ©Getty Images

Zoltán Gera believes Fulham FC still have plenty of work to do if they are to overcome FC Shakhtar Donetsk and reach the UEFA Europa League round of 16.

Gera played a key role in Fulham's 2-1 victory over last year's UEFA Cup winners in London on Thursday, scoring early and then setting up Bobby Zamora for a sublime winner after Luiz Adriano had equalised. However, the Hungarian international knows his side will have to be at their best to keep Mircea Lucescu's men at bay in the second leg on 25 February. "It will be a very, very difficult game in Ukraine," he told UEFA.com. "They are a top team, but we really want to go through."

The former West Bromwich Albion FC midfielder acknowledges that Shakhtar gave Fulham a tough test at Craven Cottage, especially in the opening period. "They had a lot of possession in the first half and caused us a lot of problems, but in the second half we played very well," the 30-year-old said. "We deserved the win."

According to Gera, Fulham's success in gaining control of the tie lay in a more aggressive approach after the restart. "We wanted to go forward quicker and earlier in the second half, and we made them lose the ball more." Zamora's 63rd-minute goal perhaps underlined the difference. "It was a top goal by Bobby and I'm very happy for him," he said.

Luiz Adriano also praised his fellow goalscorer's strike, admitting Shakhtar had been caught cold. "In the second half we were unlucky to concede a great goal, which was totally unexpected," he said. The Brazilian's neat effort, his tenth goal in UEFA club competition, had rewarded an enterprising first 45 minutes from the visitors. "The first half started badly when we conceded, but happily we managed to get back into the game and draw level," he said. The 22-year-old is also taking heart from Shakhtar's strong finish to the match: "We were going forward and kept working, but now we have to focus on getting the victory at home. Winning that game is very important to us."

Captain Darijo Srna also promises that Shakhtar will be a different proposition in Donetsk. "It is a bigger pitch and we will have a big crowd for our first competitive game in Ukraine for three months, so we have a great chance," said the 27-year-old Croatian international. "It will be a different game and we only need to score once, so if we play like today but without any mistakes we will go through. I believe in this team."